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The Four Most Common Conveyor Types


At its core, material handling is simply engineers figuring out how to move a product from point A to point B in the quickest, cheapest and least manual way possible. For almost 100 years, Conveyor has been the backbone of every material handling operation — from the first gravity conveyors unloading rail cars in the early 1900s to the most complicated systems used in high tech manufacturing facilities today. This article will provide an overview and list common applications for each of the four most common conveyor types used in material handling.


Gravity Conveyor

Perhaps the oldest and most widely used conveyor in the world, Gravity Conveyor consists of rollers or wheels that use gravity to convey product down a line. This type of conveyor can be used either as a level push line or own a down grade using gravity to move product with its own weight. Gravity is free so operating costs for roller conveyor are minimal once they are in place. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving a 1 lb. box of tape or 100 lb. bag of concrete, gravity will move it all the same.

Roller and Wheel Conveyor is most commonly used for handling smooth bottom, wood, fiber or plastic containers, crates, drums, cans and basically anything that won’t slip into the gaps between rollers and potentially get stuck.


Powered Belt Conveyor

Powered Belt Conveyor carry products on the top surface of a moving belt, either via a Slider Bed or a Roller Bed. The Slider Bed variety features a flexible belt running over top a hard surface, most made out of steel. Roller Beds have a flexible belt running over top rollers. The decision to use slider vs. roller bed comes down to product weight, where slider beds are recommended for lightweight products and roller beds for heavier products. A typical belt conveyor set up will consist of an end or center drive with a gear motor, a flexible belt, end pulleys, bed sections (either slider or roller) and electrical controls.

Belt Conveyors are extremely versatile and unlike Gravity Conveyor are able to efficiently convey a large variety of both regular and irregular shaped products. Because the flexible belt surface is solid, the concern for non-rigid products slipping into roller or wheel gaps is eliminated. They are ideal for both light and fragile or rugged and heavy products and are capable of conveying loads on horizontal, incline or decline paths depending on the conveyor capacity and product specifications.


Motor Driven Roller (MDR) Conveyor

These modern conveyors make up a substantial portion of distribution centers and if you’ve ordered anything online recently, odds are it was moved with MDR Conveyor at some point on its way to you. MDR Conveyor consists of one or more motor driven rollers — where the motor is inside the roller — that connect together to create zones of operation. These zones can then be linked to visual sensors that allow activate and deactivate zones so that product only moves to the next zone when that zone is empty. This is called “zero pressure accumulation” and ensures products never touch and therefore are never damaged.

MDR Conveyor is most often used in high tech, fast-paced systems with a lot of stopping and starting. It is ideal for tight turns and rapid movement of products, with some MDR Conveyor reaching speeds of up to 200 feet per minute or higher. If the product must be inspected or some other operation performed, MDR Conveyor is the way to go.


Chain Conveyor

There are two primary types of chain conveyor Sliding and Rolling. Sliding Chain Conveyor has two parallel chains that carry loads on top of the chains while being moved by a track running beneath. Rolling Chain Conveyor essentially do the same, but are powered by rollers inside of the chain loop.

Chain Conveyors are most often used for moving very heavy products down an assembly line or around a manufacturing plant. They are ideal for moving pallets, grid boxes and other industrial containers.



CCS Specializes in MDR Conveyor. We offer standard run-on-demand MDR Conveyor, MDR Spirals, Mobile MDR Conveyor and MDR Pallet Conveyor. If you’re interested in learning more about any of these types of conveyor, please contact Joel Thomas by email at joelthomas@cartercontrols.com or by phone at 240-815-1835.

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